Q&A: Andrew Hughes
Andrew Hughes is an international tech entrepreneur and investor living in Lisbon. He has co-founded four tech startups in Europe and the US, building world-class teams and products and achieving exits. He also co-founded two global associations to aid industry sector understanding and growth and is often invited to speak at events.
Currently, Andrew is excited to be investing in, and advising, European startups he believes are breaking new ground, as well as participating in accelerator programmes in UK and Portugal.
How long have you lived in Portugal?
It’s almost five years since we moved to Lisbon from Madrid and, interestingly, I’ve probably seen more change in one city in that time than I have in any other city I’ve ever lived in. Lisbon, in particular, is enjoying a renaissance and we’re privileged to be here for it.
What made you choose this country?
Honestly, my decision took no part in our move here. It was for my wife’s career as she set up and launched the Cartier boutique in the impressive Avenida da Liberdade, one of my favourite avenues in all of Europe. That said, it’s been amazingly fortunate for us both.
What do you most like about Portugal?
I’m often asked this, here and abroad, and it’s always a combination, but firstly the absolute feeling of safety for my family, matched by, and perhaps because of, the kindness of the Portuguese people. In today’s challenging times, the importance of this cannot be underestimated nor overvalued. Of course, the close beaches and weather to enjoy them most of the year play a huge part in our lives, too. Finally, and obviously, the rich choice of each regional food and wine. This is a long and happy journey we are taking!
What do you least like?
In the earlier days, as a tech entrepreneur and investor, I have been challenged by the different approaches taken when trying to create value here. Local entrepreneurs, too, often struggle to grasp the global speed and diversity of markets and competitors whilst being held back by outdated red-tape compared with other European countries. Things are changing and I’m always looking for ways to mentor or advise, for example, working with the great team at Lisbon’s Beta-i accelerator programme, guiding young entrepreneurs build on their ideas.
Which is your favourite region in Portugal?
A favourite is impossible! If it’s winter, we love nothing more than to hide away in the mountains of Serra da Estrela; autumn it has to be harvest time in the Douro Valley; summer it’s the sublime beaches of Comporta; and spring it’s our city Lisbon for the sheer joy of its scintillating architecture and bustling expectancy of the summer ahead.
Name your favourite restaurant.
Oh, that’s unfair! So, so many… If I have to narrow it down, then Monte Mar in Guincho; that corner table overlooking the sea is just incredible. Sal in Comporta will always be special to us and Aqui Há Peixe in Lisbon for their carabineiros (scarlet prawns).
What is your favourite traditional Portuguese food (dish or ingredient)?
Those carabineiros – hands down the most time-stopping taste I’ve enjoyed in Portugal.
And your favourite Portuguese wine (or grape variety/wine region)?
We’re loving the Douro terroir most. Discovering a new wine from here each week is one of life’s simple and greatest pleasures. Any ‘favourite’ now will quite possibly be outdated by the time of print!
And finally, your ideal destination for a Portuguese weekend getaway?
It has to be The Presidential Train, an unforgettable historical and gourmet experience ambling through the Douro Valley from Porto and back sampling a Michelin chef’s dishes whilst sipping Portuguese wines. What can top that?